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Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Page: 2369


Mr MARLES (Corio) (13:48): Viewers of The Project last night were deeply moved by the case of Ayaan Mohamed, a young woman from Somaliland in Somalia who has a serious facial disfigurement because of a gunshot wound incurred as a child during the war in Somalia. Now, through Aussie generosity, facial reconstruction surgery in Australia has become a real possibility, with this surgery and the passage to Australia being offered to Ayaan free of charge by Brisbane's Wesley Hospital and the Rotary organisation. But Ayaan has been denied a short-term medical visa by the Abbott government to come to Australia for this life-changing surgery.

Now, at our best, the Australian identity is characterised by compassion. To be sure, running an orderly migration program is very difficult—but facing up to this challenge should ultimately be driven by compassion rather than being the reason for shunning compassion. For if we allow this to be, we deny the very essence of what it is to be Australian and in the process we deny our fundamental humanity.

In this instance the refusal of Ayaan's visa application also denies surgeon John Arvier and the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane, along with the wonderful people of Rotary, the opportunity to give expression to their idea of what it is to be big-hearted Aussies and help Ayaan. So, as it stands, Minister Morrison, this decision makes no sense. It appears profoundly unfair and it needs to be reconsidered.